Discussion panel takes last look at presidential race

Jessica Kergo
Connector Editor

As the 2016 presidential election comes to a close, many members of the political community are still making one last attempt at analyzing such an unusual race. Guest panelists, Marjorie Connelly and Jefferey M. Berry, took the stage at UMass Lowell to discuss the challenges that political scientists have faced as a result of the unconventional aspects of the 2016 presidential election.

At 4 p.m. on Nov. 1, The College of Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences hosted the presentation “Election 2016: The Challenge” a forum regarding the difficulties faced by pollsters, political scientists and voters this election cycle in the mezzanine of O’Leary Library.

The Political Science Department’s own Frank Talty opened the discussion, greeting the students, faculty and members of the public who were of attendance at this free event. He referred to the final week before the election as “the last shot at trying to analyze what we’re looking at this election” and then went on to introduce the new provost, accomplished educator, scientist and administrator, Michael Vayda.

Vayda greeted the crowd by highlighting “how blessed we all are” to live in a country “that has the opportunity to choose our leaders, to have open and public debates, to be free to expressed our own personal positions” and jokingly referenced television host, John Olvier’s plea that “this be over soon” referring to the election. In closing, he urged the audience to get out and vote, thanked Dr. Talty, Professor Joshua Dyck, and the two panelist speakers.

The forum was then turned to professor Joshua Dyck who explain the significance behind the title “The Challenge.” “This has been a challenging election in so many ways,” said Dyck. “Pollsters have been challenged, political scientists have been challenged, candidate architypes have been challenged.” Finally, the first panelist, Connelly was introduced.

Connelly is a senior fellow with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. For over 30 years, Connelly has worked for the New York Times in its News Survey Department. She also served as a member of the executive council of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) from 2011 to 2013 as president of the New York chapter. She contributed her knowledge of exit polls, demographics of those who were polled, and how the polls work.

Panelist, Berry was then introduced. Berry teaches courses on both national and urban politics at Tufts University where he holds the John Richard Skuse Chair in political science. Some books he has written include “The New Liberalism,” “A Voice for Nonprofits ”and “Lobbying and Policy Change.” Throughout his strongly partisan speech, Berry addressed Republican nominee Donald Trump’s candidacy saying, “How did the Republican Party nominate Trump?” He then offered a quick recap of the history of the Republican party in an attempt to insinuate a normalcy of Donald Trump as a Republican nominee.

After the two panelists spoke, Dyck opened up the Q&A panel. Questions regarded the likelihood of a Trump presidency, Clinton’s email scandal, and party unity and more. Talty then thanked the panelists to close the discussion.

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